June Has Become the Month of Climate Doom, and Now It Stretches Into July
June is never a good month for the existential doom meter, what with the kickoff of California's traditional fire season—an increasingly anachronistic term—along with the annual reemergence of what now passes for East Coast summer weather, namely extreme heat waves followed by insane precipitation events. (And it ain't just the East Coast.) All this is punctuated by reports of Western droughts now verging on aridification, heat waves in Canada and, uh, Siberia...you know the drill. But much like how the 1980s really lasted until around 1993, Doom June now lasts well into July. And boy, is it a big week for all that.
First of all, we learned one of the only things that seemed kind of good is now actually bad. The Amazon rainforest, long held up as one of the planet's premier carbon sinks—that is, a place where all the trees and vegetation would help soak up some of the CO2 we're pumping into the atmosphere—is, well, not so much. "Portions of the Amazon rainforest are now emitting more carbon dioxide than they absorb," the New York Times tells us, citing a study from scientists at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research published in Nature. "Deforestation and an accelerating warming trend have contributed to change in the carbon balance, which is most severe in the southeastern region of the Amazon, where there are both rising temperatures and reduced rainfall in the dry season. The most affected regions have warmed by 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit during the dry season in the last 40 years, comparable to the changes seen in the rapidly-warming Arctic."
So one of the only things working in the other direction against our wanton self-destruction is rapidly slowing down, thanks in no small part to the dumbass currently sitting in the big chair down in Brazil. Well, he's currently in the hospital with the hiccups, but still. This is your reminder that electing authoritarian freaks does not just place your own democracy under threat. It will inevitably deal further damage to whatever viability still remains for human life on this planet, as they cover their cronyism and corruption in reactionary dross.
Oh, and remember that heatwave in Canada and the Pacific Northwest? The estimates coming in now suggest it killed 1 billion shellfish. Mussels, snails, mollusks, clams—all cooked in their shells. This is not just bad for business, or bad for the humans who intended to eat them. It will also destabilize the ecosystems these creatures lived in. But yeah, it's also bad for humans. 3 billion of us depend on seafood for nourishment in this world, and it doesn't look like it will come from California salmon. Much of the chinook salmon population in the Sacramento River are set to be killed off by the heat as well. The decline of maritime ecosystems is well underway, and like so much else, seems to be happening extraordinarily quickly. All of these things are dynamically interconnected in ways that we have barely begun to understand.
Pretty soon, though, we can turn our attention from all that to the California wildfires and the more extreme storms slamming into the Southeast. Doom June stays undefeated, and like the fire season, it's got its sights set on year-round status.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.